They say all that starts well, ends well. This applies to goal-setting and achievement in our careers. However, you might plan and things work out in unexpected ways, stuff does happen, you know! This is where self-evaluation with regard to your career comes in. Ancient thinkers – think Plato, Socrates – all agree that an uninvestigated life (read career) isn’t worth living.
Most of us do set goals usually at the beginning of the year. Whether they’re achievable, not many care. The truth is you should and must care, for the key to success has long been known to be proper planning. So how you plan in order to succeed? Be SMART. Set goals that are:
Start by asking yourself some fundamental but important questions that will help you get much clearer about your goals or how to modify them to suit new realities. Ask yourself, for example, what career you are in? Are you a project manager who needs to evaluate goals quarterly? Or at the end of the month-old project? Tie your goals and their achievements, down to the details of specific objectives and tasks in a given time-frame. This way, every month will have performance indicators – did I achieve my daily, monthly plan? If yes, what factors led to my achievement and if no, what factors contributed to it? This will help you take stock of your success as you review the direction your career/professional life is headed to.
Are you feeling happy in the current job, the one you’ve been into in the past period of goal setting? Remember, having a healthy paycheck doesn’t always result in happiness and contentment in your career. Try to go through all aspects of your current job/career to ensure that there’re tangible reasons to support your feelings of happiness and contentment before you set out to review what works and what doesn’t in your situation.
Most people’s New Year resolutions feature career goals prominently. But what are these goals? Are they long-term goals? As you set out to set some goals to achieve within a given period, try to factor in unforeseen circumstances like sudden management decisions at your place of work – think downsizing. Considering all factors, are your goals achievable? If you’re planning long-term say 2 or 3 years, make room for modification. At the year end, this is perhaps the best time to dock out your goals list what hasn’t worked. Don’t rely on your feelings but rather on practical reasons that led and are likely to determine achievement of your goals.
The quarterly or annual achievements should give you a bearing concerning what you accomplished as well what you didn’t, probably because you lacked some needed skills to achieve in the area. At this time also, you will be able to know what skills, tangible or intangible, you are more needed to progress in your career. In case you learnt new things, techniques of performing your duties better, learnt new skills and new realities, it’s time to take stock of that. While still on this, look for any room for improvement in both goal setting and realization. Has there been any disconnect between aspiration and achievement? How do you bridge it?
In evaluating your career, don’t forget the maxim: look before you leap. Know where you are in relation to your plans or scheme of things. How far from achieving your dream, are you before you dare think where your career is headed to? Try to make out what could have hampered your goals in the previous goal realization period. A S.W.O.T. Analysis of you at this point is necessary.
- Strengths – what are your strengths? Your competitive advantage? Unique skills to help me achieve dream?
- Weaknesses – are they too obvious to everyone, leading to an outright disadvantage at the workplace? In my career life?
- Opportunities – am in the right job/career? Is my current employment helping me get the necessary exposure to spot opportunities; does my current job allow enough ‘thinking space’ so lead me to new opportunities?
- Threats – is what am doing currently unrelated to my career aspirations, contrary to some of my goals – short and long-term – and hence a threat to my career progress?
With this kind of self-evaluation, you’ll know if you’re in the right place, doing the right thing at the right time or not. And if not, reshape your goals and you’ll be closer to achieving what your dream is made up of.
All over the world, it seems politicians are a scheming, practical lot, or so I think. For I see them ‘flow’ with what will ensure their success at the ballot box in the next elections. They’re almost always right in predicting what they need and should do, and in which way to attain or retain power. The same applies to your career. Where do you see yourself in the next 2, 3 or say five years? In the same job? Doing the same things, same style? Like a politician, be clear on what you want – state it boldly, and want it badly! You may realize you need to refocus in your goals regarding your career in order to realize your dream. What do you change, what do you retain? Evaluate your career and you’ll not only know but also act do what needs to be done and voila! You are on the highway to career success.